Why Are There Not More Options for Women's Sailing Clothing?

Seeking Solutions: Women’s Sailing Clothes and Gear!

There has been plenty of discussion around how to increase the number of women in sailing, and progress has been made. But here’s an area where progress has been scant: Women’s-specific sailing gear and regatta clothing.

The Herrington Harbour Women's Regatta 2021 is an annual sailboat race for women crews on the Chesapeake Bay. The Chessie team placed first in the spinnaker class in 2021. Photo by Will Keyworth

Women are shaped differently than men, so clothes and gear designed and sized for men don’t fit most women well. What does it say about how much we want women in our sport if a woman goes to a regatta and can’t get a regatta shirt that fits her well? Or can’t find gear that fits well enough to let her do her job on the boat without hindrance? Pretty much, that says sailing considers her a second-class citizen.

Regatta merchandise is an easy fix. Lorie Stout, owner of StoutGear (stoutgear.com), highlights the growth in options for regatta tops that fit everyone well. “Designers realized that women make up a large portion of the corporate arena,” Stout described. “Now it is seldom when there is not a women’s-styled shirt to match the men’s-styled shirt.” And yes, prices are usually the same for both styles.

Don’t get me started on the lack of gear designed for women. At a recent regatta in New England, I wore some new neoprene pants most days. Unfortunately, they were “unisex” design (a.k.a. “men’s”), so they didn’t incorporate enough material in the butt area (yes we tend to have bigger behinds). That led to a chilly gap between the top of my pants and the bottom of my top. And please design more options that are effective PFDs that also are slimmer on top (where we’re not).

At many dinghy regattas, women are 50 percent of the competitors. Let’s help make them feel as welcomed as the other 50 percent. 

~Kim Couranz

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